Pretty Little Town

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Hostel Guanajuato

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Thursday, January 5, 2012

I'd be broke if I tipped every single busker who has ever sang or fiddled or plucked his/her guitar near me. But this time I did. It was better than I could have imagined... driving into Guanajuato on a crowded bus, winding through the tunnels into and out of the darkness all the while accompanied by typical live Mexican music. It was like the beginning of a movie... 

Such was my introduction to possibly the prettiest little town in all of Mexico! Set between three hills with pedestrian walkways all over made possible by an extensive (and fascinating) network of underground tunnels. You could spend hours just wandering, popping into cute little shops on the winding streets and at night hopping between the myriad of bars and clubs.

What a warm welcome to Hostel Guanajuato! By Georgina at reception, Tadeo, her son, and Pancho, their cute chihuahua. Their made me feel right at home right away. There was only one other person in the dorm when I arrived. Must be a guy, I thought, judging from the messy state of his bed. LOL! Turns out he was the Swedish cyclist, Andreas, whom we'd met before in Zacatecas. Small world! A few days later again I happened to be at reception at check-out when I crossed paths with a Mexican guy I'd met in Zacatecas two weeks before. Yes, I do talk to many randoms!

I hesitated to walk to the Panoramica road alone after reading online reports of joggers being robbed at dawn and dusk, but I figured I'd be fine in the middle of the day. Besides I'm taller than the average Mexican, male or female. I can take them on! I was fine, except exhausted and overheated in the midday sun. I perched myself on a rock to take in the breathtaking views. From there I noticed a group of kids running up some stairs and into the little corner shop to buy some juice. They couldn't have been older than 4 years old. I decided that if this neighbourhood is safe enough for 4 year olds, it was safe enough for me!

It took me a while to get to the top following the traffic route but a kindly shopkeeper with no forearms showed me a quicker way to get back down into the centro. So I meandered my way between the maze of colourful houses greeting the locals who were sat in their doorways, hanging their laundry or kids playing with their dogs. I met a few little old ladies climbing those hills as they probably do every day. They really put me to shame, I really need to exercise more often!

Georgina had recommended a cheap student restaurant near Casa de Diego Rivera that had both tasty and cheap food. At $35 pesos (less than 2 quid) for a 3-course meal, it really can't be beat! I opted for the tortilla soup for starters, steak and potatoes with rice for the main, and arroz de leche (cold rice pudding) for dessert. The portions were so big, that was both my lunch and supper sorted!

Roadworks were underway across the centro making it noisy in places and requiring careful treading in others, yet it was still impressive-looking! The municipality clearly had an interest in maintaining the quaint look of the town as we saw workmen chipping away at the brand-new pavements to give it an old school, cobbled feel and they had laid down a mosaic commemorating the new year (see pic).

But hey, it's Friday evening and my nizzy is due to arrive any minute! Best I head back. Yay! Reunited and it feels so goooooood!! So many stories to share and a whole new town to show off.

After first discovering it, we made a daily beeline to Mercado Hidalgo. The tortas carnitas (roasted pork on a powdery roll served with salsa and guacamole) were irresistible to Mario. Meanwhile Dee was happy to find and feast upon those same tasty prawn cocktails as they had in Leon!

We ticked the main touristy boxes like climbing up the Pipila. It took all of 15 minutes of huffing and puffing up steep, winding pedestrian paths. The pretty city views were so worth it! As worth it was the sight of a military police vehicle stuck in those very same paths... er, which part of pedestrian was unclear? Tell-tale scrape marks on the walls said this wasn't the first time! It was both funny and cringy to stand alongside a growing crowd of locals and watch 5 uniformed cops try to wiggle and bounce the 4x4 until it eventually dislodged (see pic).

We popped our heads into a few of the many ornate churches and happened upon a wedding, a gorgeous bride arriving a white VW Beetle! That's so Mexico! Except for the groom and his family. They were clearly Scottish - kilt, coat of arms and all.

The freakiest experience by far was visiting the Museo de Momias (Museum of Mummies). The Pantheon is a cemetery that now houses caskets in specially-built walls (see pic). When the grounds became too crowded some bodies were exhumed only to discover that somehow the conditions of the soil had mummified the bodies! About 30 are on display at the Museo de Momias but don't worry we spared you the trauma of displaying pics of dead people. If you're really curious (what's wrong with you??!!) there's always Google images but don't say I didn't warn you!

Mario and Dee seemed to take turns getting ill while in Guanajuato - Mario relapsing with man-flu and Dee suffering from diarrheoa. But we if had to be trapped somewhere, Guanajuato was a good place for it!
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